Personally I have only read two authors from Japan that I am aware of: Haruki Murakami and Kobo Abe. Kobo Abe's book "A Woman in the Dunes" was a previous selection here on BookTalk, and though I own it, I've not yet read it. I have read his book "The Box Man", and I found it so bizarre I didn't even know what to think. By the end of the novel, I wasn't certain who the narrator was or if he even existed. I don't even know how I would define that book: Modernist, Postmodern, insane. I get the impression he's a bit of an author's author with his experimentation of concept, but again, I've only read that one novel.
Haruki Murakami is recognized as a pomo author, but as we've discussed, that definition is a nebulous one. When I was younger, I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy fiction. Neil Gaiman was my favourite author (I still like him a lot!), but beyond him I read a lot of random sci-fi and such. "Speculative Fiction" one might say (Miss Atwood). A friend of mine tsk tsked at my limited scope and insisted I read Murakami. I wasn't really interested, but then my friend pointed out the novel "Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World" by him, which has a sci-fi premise. I thought it sounded interesting so I read it - as soon as I finished it I picked up another of his books (the one we're reading now) and I just couldn't get enough of him. After Murakami, I started to read non-genre fiction and I think I will be forever grateful to Murakami and my friend (thanks Matthew!) for opening my eyes to all these amazing books.
I have heard Murakami criticized for having a lot of Western influence in his writing. He has a definite love of Western music and he lived in the US for a number of years. I thought it somewhat ironic that he would be termed YAJA (Yet Another Japanese Author) when he takes flak for not being "Japanese enough". I wonder what it is to be a Japanese writer? From the two I've read I would say they need to be able to fold your brain in half, but I am not certain they are a good representation of Japanese writing as a whole because obviously I have read only the authors that had stories that appealed to me. I have been meaning to read other Japanese authors (at least one or two) and see how they stack up, but honestly I've not yet found anything compelling enough.
I didn't know of any rep Japanese writers had of any sort. While initially it seemed weird to me that there may be one, I am abruptly reminded of my opinion of Indian novels. That is, if I see a book is written by an Indian author, I am less likely to read it. Is this because I am a book racist? I don't know. I've read three books by Indian writers and to me, they were the same thing. Life in India, the common man living in his common house in a city trying to live in a good life. I just find them super boring! But maybe I haven't read a wide enough variety to really judge. I am in general a fan of Magic Realism which is something prevalent in Indian writing (I am told) but I haven't really come across it much.
I don't think if all books listed were by American authors, anyone would care. I don't know if this is because of a perceived depth in American literature (not sure I agree with that) or because it is familiar (more inclined to agree with that). I suspect in Japan if all authors listed were American, they would note it more than we would in North America (and if all authors were Japanese I don't think they would comment). Hard to say, though. If all authors listed were Canadian I would probably have a seizure! I'm way more racist against Canadian books than Indian books.
Though I have serious issues with any book described as "poignant" and sometimes it seems that is the most popular descriptive term for books from Canuckistan.